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Southwestern Canada's province of Alberta contains the third largest city in the country, Calgary. With a beautiful Bow River setting and Banff National Park's majestic mountains to its west, Calgary's metro population of over a million is blessed with a flourishing urban economy as well as abundant, year-round recreational opportunities.
The city may be reached by automobile via the Trans-Canada Highway; the nearest Via Rail station is located in Edmonton, about 300 km to its north. Calgary International Airport (YYC) offers easy access to a number of nonstop destinations on 21 airlines, and supplies many Calgary discount hotels for travelers' convenience. Calgary Transit (CT) provides public transport around the city by bus or light rail.
The heart of Calgary is its downtown, and many visitors begin their exploration by ascending to the top of Calgary Tower for its breathtaking, panoramic view of the city and beyond. An exciting outdoor venue awaits you in downtown, the Canada Olympic Park, offering a system of mountain bike trails, groomed cross-country ski trails and a first-class half-pipe for snowboarding. Stephen Avenue Walk is a popular destination for events, art shows and street entertainment. Prince's Island Park is the site of the annual 4-day Calgary Folk Music Festival, which boasts 7 stages of live music, an arts market, and great food.
Downtown's EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts hosts the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra performances; the International Children's Festival is held at the Centre each May. The mainstage performances of the Calgary Opera are found at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre sponsors the High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts held in January. Attendees enjoy theatre, music, comedy and dance performances from all over the world. The event is held at several downtown Calgary venues. Downtown venues are also utilized for the 10-day Calgary International Film Festival which screens more than 200 films from across the world.
Sports fans will find themselves drawn to Scotiabank Saddledome, hockey central, home to the Calgary Hitmen and the NHL Calgary Flames. For basketball, soccer, football and more hockey, you can attend the University of Calgary Dinos' athletic events. This college has an attendance of over 31,000 students, offering many campus attractions including a museum, theatres and an art gallery. McMahon Stadium is home of the UC Dinos as well as the CFL Calgary Stampeders; concerts and other special events are held here as well.
The Calgary Zoo is located just 5 minutes from downtown, sporting over a thousand animals in elaborate exhibits, acres of botanical gardens and a prehistoric park. TELUS Spark is a science centre which is perfect for encouraging your children's imaginations and creativity.
Inglewood district offers live music venues, original art galleries, independently-owned designer clothing boutiques, home furnishings, restaurants and pubs. Each June, 30,000 festival-goers attend Sunfest to enjoy a community event featuring street buskers, a vintage car show, pie eating contest, and food and crafts vendors. The annual Fringe Festival is also found in Inglewood.
Even if you have not been to Calgary, you likely have heard of its famous Calgary Stampede. Ten days in July bring hundreds of thousands of people for rodeos, parades, big-name concerts and a celebration of the cowboy. The venues at Stampede Park host this annual event.
Banff National Park is one of Canada's premier parks, and it is only an hour and a half west of Calgary. You can see grizzly bears and caribou, fish in Lake Minnewanka, ski, snowmobile, hike trails through the most pristine wilderness, mellow out in natural hot springs – and those are just a few of the exciting activities you can enjoy in Banff! Another popular outdoor destination is Fish Creek Provincial Park, Canada's largest urban park. Hiking, biking, swimming, boating, camping and picnicking are all popular activities in this daytime park.
Play a round or two at one of the nearby championship golf courses surrounded by stunning mountains and sparkling streams, try your luck at one of the local casinos or shop til you drop at the Chinook Centre or the Market Mall, each boasting hundreds of great shops and restaurants. Get outside and enjoy fishing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, skiing and snowboarding – Calgary is an active vacation destination, 12 months a year!